The Infuriating Guide to Everything Good You’re Missing While Abroad (This Month, At Least)
It’s not even the second week of school, but with the smattering of impressive concert options littering the sidebar of the newly revamped Aural Wes, it may as well be the fifth. More succinctly: look at all these sweet bands (ok, fine, duos) coming to campus! And none of them even have “bear” in their name. What a trip.
Here’s a by-no-means-comprehensive guide to what’s up and when, from tonight’s Wye Oak gig through to the end of September. If you haven’t already scoped out Aural Wes 2.0 (and I’m not talking about a sparsely updated Blogspot account), slide on over, and if you’re a freshperson, welcome for the billionth time to Wes. There’s a lot of music here, and despite every instinct in your body, there is nothing even faintly wrong with showing up to one of these shows alone to investigate. Read on for the lineup. [EDIT: LAST.FM LINKS! EVERYWHERE! REJOICE!]
What it sounds like: A hip-looking male-female duo from Baltimore who plays sad, reverb-drenched dreampop but whose name strangely does not rhyme with Heach Bouse. “Textured,” “smoky,” “earnest,” and a veritable truckload of other adjectives you’re bound to encounter after an hour with XM’s “Coffee House” station.
Liz adds: The band’s 2009 album The Knot and EP My Neighbor, My Creator found itself on repeat on my iTunes this past winter when I fell in love with Jenn Wasner’s powerful and, yes, gorgeous voice—probably the make-or-break factor for the first-time listener. Wye Oak’s sound moves between folk, shoegaze, and distortion-laced rock—maybe if Yo La Tengo gulped down some Red Bull, added Sharon Van Etten’s evocative voice and, took some of Ra Ra Riot’s folk-with-violins harmonies.
What it doesn’t sound like: “indie-folk”
Why you should go: Because this school doesn’t book enough good old-fashioned sad bastard music. Plus, post-Linus indie-poppers Treasure Island are warming up, and they’re catchy! “TV and Poetry” is so going to be stuck in your head at brunch tomorrow morning.
And because what the hell else are you going to do tonight, see one of the most twisted and haunting noirs ever to ooze its way out of the back alleys of ’50s Hollywood? Attend a national premier performance by an acclaimed Italian theater group followed by a straight-up CFA dance performance? Hit up an AEPi-sponsored pirate party starring DJs with names like “J666n” and “Dubbstep”? Roll through one of the countless NSFWesleying birthdayslashbeginningoftheyearslashwhatever “ragers” sure to spill out to infinity (Fountain) and beyond (Pine)?
Take it from me, there’s nothing going on tonight.
What it sounds like: The Argus recently referred to this San Fran-based duo as “critically lauded folk-freaks,” but I don’t hear a whole lot of folk or freak—more like remarkably straightforward indie-pop with an emphasis on heavily strummed acoustic guitar and weirdly relentless West African-style drumming. The lack of dynamic range is occasionally frustrating, but the melodies are there and the live show is, y’know, supposed be really fun.
Liz adds: Visiter was my soundtrack for part of my freshman year; give a listen to “Fools” or “Walking” or really any track to see why. The Dodos promises to be the first big, highly anticipated show of the fall semester.
Why you should go: This one’s gonna be big. And even if you’re not a fan of Dodos, it’ll be worth it for the electrifying and decidedly spacier opening act The Luyas, fresh out of Montreal.
What it sounds like: 1965. Happy. Like, disgustingly happy. I’m talking handclaps, jangly guitars, tambourines, and sunshine.
Liz adds: You may remember the Generationals from their ridiculously catchy “When They Fight, They Fight,” which was inescapable for a while back in 2009. The Generationals deliver upbeat pop tunes with simple, sing-along hooks, with definite influences of early ’60s girl group and Beach Boys/Beatles tunes (think more “Please Please Me” than “Happiness is a Warm Gun”). The Generationals have a repertoire of two full-lengths and one EP of feel-good tunes that will make it difficult to resist toe-tapping or shimmying around the Eclectic floor. Make it an Eclectic double-hitter week and start the weekend early.
Why you should go: There just aren’t enough indie duos coming to campus lately. And when else are you gonna have time to see two week-night concerts in a row without pulling all-nighters? It’s the beginning of the semester. Relish it while you can.
What it sounds like: “Aaahhh-ruba, Jamaica, ooooh I wanna take ya, Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama . . .”
Seriously, man: Ok. I know nothing about this act. According to Aural Wes, Kodomo is the DJ project of Chris Child, a New York-based DJ who describes his work as motivated by interest in ““images, objects, landscapes, weather and various scientific data.” The songs themselves have names like “Decoherence” and “Spira Mirabilis” and sound like the sort of beat-driven techno you’d hear blaring out of a particularly hip American Apparel: glitchy drum programming, blippy-bloopy bass loops, spiraling synth riffs.
Why you should go: Judging by these beats, There Will Be Bumpin’. And Grindin’. Plus, it’s a good chance to support some of Wes’s homegrown DJ talent, namely Crook$hanks (Adrien DeFontaine ’13) and LA Gears (Sky Stallbaumer ’12). Despite what you think, Crook$hanks does not perform Wizard Rock.
What it sounds like: Lands & Peoples performs a particularly delirious brand of slow, dense, swirling synth-pop with more sonic texture than you can shake a moog at. Secret Mountains captures a far earthier, more rocking-er sort of psychedelia, with excellent female vocals to boot. Both are from Baltimore. Neither has a Wikipedia.
Why you should go: Apparently my friend—let’s call her Catherine—loves Lands & People. She’s a Baltimore native, and obviously she’s abroad the one semester they come. This is a damn intriguing double-booking, and you may as well check out WestCo cafe’s inauguratory outside show of the year. Do it for Catherine.
What it sounds like: Collapsing in warm blankets of despair on a beach in Iceland. ETHEREAEEEALLL DDDDRRRRREEEAAAAAMMMMYYY SLLOOOWWWWWW AAAANGEEELLLIIIIIIIiiijiwwrwwrwwwraaaaewariwwww
Why you should go: Uh. See above. The Chapel was a good call for this one. (Also, campus fave vocal talent Faith Harding ’14 will be opening.)
What it sounds like: Ava Luna is an overwhelmingly busy-sounding Brooklyn-based 7-piece with polyrhythms and Dirty Projector-style psych harmonies and funk synths out the wazoo. Spanish Prisoners, also from Brooklyn, melds similar influences into a less frenzied and maybe more Chillwavey blend. Treasure Island opens again.
Why you should go: This is gon’ be funky, and WestCo Cafe is the perfect venue. Think Buru Style gig on Mars.